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Why Disciple?

by Caedmon Coley

Why Disciple? 

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'”– Matthew 28:18-20 

The Great Commission plays a central role in much of the work we do here at the College of Athens. We take Jesus’ command seriously, and as a result, we aim to equip students to go and disciple the nations, at home or abroad, in the church or in the workforce. In light of Christ’s ascension, which the Church celebrated this month, we thought it would be worthwhile to dive into some of the details of the Great Commission today. 

Looking at the context of Matthew 28:19-20, we can see that we are instructed to disciple the nations because Jesus has all the authority in the cosmos: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore.” We go out to teach the disparate peoples of the world about Jesus because those peoples belong to Him; they are His birthright. Consider Psalm 2: The Father there says to the Son “ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth as Your possession” (v. 8). The nations are Christ’s by right, and His purpose in sending us out is the fulfillment of His claim to those places; claiming by the advance of the gospel what is already His. 

What’s more, we actually couldn’t go out as messengers of the Gospel unless Jesus was ruling and reigning. If the nations did not currently belong to Christ, we would have nothing to say to them. The fact that Jesus Christ is Lord is central to every engagement with the unbelieving world that we could have. 

We are charged not only with going and proclaiming the fact that Jesus has authority over every part of what it means to be human (which is, I think, an appropriate way of describing evangelism), but also with helping people to live like this is true. If this world is indeed ruled by King Jesus, this has a myriad of implications for our life, doctrine, and worship, and we need help navigating them. This is why we submit ourselves to God’s word and seek to help bring others into submission as well. This is why we teach others to do what Christ has taught us; this is why we disciple.   

So, in short, we go to the nations because they are already Christ’s. He already has been given them and we are just breaking the news to everyone. As the Moravian missionaries once proclaimed as they set out to disciple and evangelize: “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering.”  

By Caedmon Coley

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